Standing Out From the Competition: A Business Guide

Running your own business comes with various benefits and rewards, but with that, also comes risks and challenges.  As a business owner, one of your greatest challenges regardless of your industry is your competition. Competition in the business world is fierce, for some industries more than others.  Your job as a successful business owner is to learn the best ways to rise above and separate your company from any other competitive businesses. Getting your business to stand out is very achievable, with the right tools and effort.  Here are a few ways you can separate yourself from the competition.

Exceptional Customer Service/Interaction

Customer service is a crucial key to the success of your business, and can also make or break your success.  Your customers should be viewed as a foundational part of your company; without them, your goals aren’t met.  With that, you should always make sure your company is delivering exceptional customer service to any consumers that need it.  This applies to delivering quality products and services, answering questions or concerns, and taking customer feedback into serious consideration.  A company that emulates strong customer service will always rise above a company that puts customer service on the back-burner.

Honest Business Practices

Always practice honest business.  Your consumers want to know they can trust your company, for quality products, and accountability.  If a product can’t be delivered on time, make the consumer well aware, to avoid any issues. If there is an internal error from a representative, billing, or with something like your website, make sure to hold your company accountable.  Customers will be quick to lose faith and trust in a company that beats around the bush and doesn’t tell the truth when something may be going wrong. Always keep that in mind. It’s a truly great way to establish a strong report with your consumers…

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Four Popular Interior Design Trends of 2019

One of the greatest aspects of interior design is following the way trends have changed over time.  Looking at the way homes were designed 30 years ago, holds a drastic difference from the homes of today, from floor plans to appliances and color options.  Today, interior design has become a mix of rustic and modern ideas, that can be brought to life by a professional, or completed by a homeowner with a passion for all things DIY.  Here’s a quick list of four popular interior design trends you might come across this year.

Black Bathrooms

Bathrooms have gone through pretty significant decor changes over the last few decades.  Coming from pale pinks and blues, with “calming” seashell themes, to recently more modern “spa-like” looks consisting of neutral colors and tile work.  But 2019 has brought a new trend to the world of bathroom decor: Bold, dark, and black. The days of neutral color tones are coming to an end, and many homeowners and designers are incorporating black appliances, colors, and other dark accents into their bathrooms.  The trend is meant to give off a high-end, luxury appearance.

Saturated Color

Recent years have had many homeowners in a “grey phase”.  Similar to the way bathroom decor looked, neutral colors and greys were extremely popular throughout the home.  However, many interior design professionals are saying that with 2019 comes an extreme pop of color, or colors! “For a long time people have been in this grey phase While it’s very open airy and feels good, people are starting to turn to colors to pull different feelings and emotions. We are seeing people want to be energized, and kind of wrapped in color,” says interior designer, Lisa Gilmore

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West Coast Travel Guide: Top Destinations in California

If you haven’t had the chance to travel out west, California is a great place to start (as the giant state takes up a large part of the coastline.)  When you think of the wonderful “Golden State” it’s likely you think of hollywood, movie stars, or even Disneyland; however, a trip to Cali has more much to offer than what you see in the regular media.  From stunning scenery consisting of mountain-scapes or beautiful beaches to major cities and some of the best downtown areas, the great state of California offers visitors with an abundance of fun and exciting activities.  If you’re considering a trip, you might want to look into some of these fantastic destinations:

Napa Valley

A wine lovers paradise, Napa Valley is a popular destination for wine connoisseurs across the world!  Here you can find over 400 wineries that offer incredible food and wine pairing experiences. If you’re not so focused on the wine aspect of Napa and you’re more of a foodie, that’s okay!  Napa Valley has more than 125 restaurant destinations that can take you from casual, to fine dining. For beer lovers, Napa is also home to an up and coming beer scene; take a visit to one of its blossoming microbreweries!  Additionally, Napa provides visitors with stunning scenery, and tons of opportunities to experience history, arts, and culture in its bustling downtown area.

Santa Monica

Located just West of the popular downtown Los Angeles area, Santa Monica is known for having a perfect combination of stunning ocean views with a big city feel.  Take a walk on the Santa Monica Pier (where you’ll see it’s famous giant ferris wheel), and experience tons of delicious restaurants (perfect for any foodie), shops, and fun activities such as a full amusement park and arcade.  If you’re feeling more on the adventurous side, take a trip to the Trapeze School New York, where you can learn the art of flying and performing a few different aerial stunts (after you take the required two-hour class)…

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4 Essential Tips for Successful Networking

One of the most important aspects of successful business practice is recognizing and participating in different networking opportunities.  Networking presents an entrepreneur with connections, business opportunities, and a way to hear about different experiences, made up of successes and failures from others who are on a similar path.  Whether you’re working to grow within a specific industry, or just looking to make general connections, participating in networking events are a great way to get your name out there, and meet interesting people along the way.  Here are a few essential tips for successful networking:

Build Relationships

One of the most important parts of business is relationship building.  As an entrepreneur or business executive, you want to make sure your relationship building skills are strong, as you need to make connections with peers, fellow employees, and even clients/consumers.  The relationships you build can bring great success to your business ventures. Be genuine, and work on creating relationships with those that you have an interest in, and think you can learn from.

Be a Strong Listener

Part of your relationship building skills should be focused on your ability to listen to others, and retain important information.  Networking events aren’t just an opportunity to sell yourself and your business; they’re more of a time to get to know others that are on a similar path and listen to their experiences and potential advice.  When meeting someone new, or joining a conversation, listen to what is being said and make sure you’re retaining some of the information…

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Vacation Spotlight: Top Wine Destinations to Visit This Summer

As summertime approaches, you may be thinking about fun vacation ideas.  Whether you’re thinking about a solo trip, a group gathering, or a romantic couples getaway, one thing is certain: a trip to a wine region could be perfect for any of these occasions.  Aside from tasting some of the most delicious wines, you’ll experience delicious food, interesting and often historic tours, and gorgeous scenery perfect for any summer day. Here are a few of the greatest wine destinations you might want to consider visiting this summer!

Charlottesville, VA

Famous for the Monticello Wine Trail, the historic home to about 30 different wineries, Charlottesville is a perfect destination to kick off our list.  The trail is part of the land that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, who played a major role in the development of the now well-established wine country here.  If you’re looking for a ton of history, delicious wines, and stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can plan your trip around visiting most of the entire trail.  Additionally, the city of Charlottesville itself has fantastic entertainment, shopping, and food options that you can easily work into your trip!

Finger Lakes, NY

A destination also packed with tons of history, is New York’s Finger Lakes region, which is home to wineries that date back to the 1850s.  This area is home to over 100 wineries and is famous for making some of the most delicious Riesling you can find; this is often dedicated to a similar climate to that of Germany’s Rhine region.  The Finger Lakes region is made up of 11 different lakes; however, only three are really focused on wine production. The entire region is great for scenery, and has tons of up-and-coming restaurants that you won’t want to miss!…

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Designing Your Perfect Home Office

One of the best aspects of design, in general, is the opportunity for creativity.  Home design, for example, is an area where you can practice creativity while turning your living space into a comfortable and welcoming setting.  As a corporate professional, you’re likely to spend a significant amount of time in your work office, or a professional office setting of sorts. And if you’re like many other corporate professionals, your work likely follows you home now and then.  With that, if you have an extra space in your home, you may want to consider creating yourself a home office space; this is where you can create a creative, comfortable workspace that suits you perfectly. Here are a few solid tips:

Location

Just like finding a place for a business office, location in your home is important as well.  You want your home office to be in a quiet area, free from distractions (if possible). Of course, this does depend a lot on your home setting and how your home is laid out.  However, if you have an extra room, a loft space, or even a finished basement or attic, you can surely transform it into a wonderful home workspace. Additionally, if your space is limited, you can always reserve yourself a nook in your living area as well.

Color & Lighting

Assuming you have a space for a home office, like a separate room, you’ll want to focus on the aesthetics, such as color and lighting.  A room with a few windows for natural light is a great step to creating a calming workspace.  Decide on a few color options that you think would suit the space best. Generally, you’ll want to go for lighter, soft colors that will make your space feel open and welcoming while reflecting any natural light that may be coming in…

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Becoming an Industry Leader

No matter what industry or field you’re in, your business will more than likely face more than one serious competitor.  Competition in business is fierce, and to maintain success as a business owner or executive, you need to know how to set your company aside from others.  Setting the goal of becoming an industry leader is a great way to combat your competition and build trust and loyalty with your consumer base. Here are a few great tips to becoming an industry leader:

Have a Thought Leadership Perspective

It may seem self-explanatory, but the first major step to obtaining the title of an industry leader is to think with a thought leadership perspective.  A thought leader is someone who is not only well versed in their industry but also presents themselves as an industry expert. You want to become a powerful authority within your space while serving your clients on an exceptional level.

Be Innovative

Innovation is key for a business looking to lead their industry.  Consider major technology companies such as Apple Inc. and Samsung.  While both companies are wildly successful, each has created different innovative technologies that have revolutionized their industry and kept their consumers coming back for more.  Even if your innovation isn’t necessarily a brand new product or service, your company can still hone in on innovation by adding or improving an already existing product or service. This will show your consumers that you’re not just creating products and leaving them at a base level, but continuously looking to improve what you’ve already created…

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Developing a Growth Mindset in Leadership

Hearing about the importance of leadership in the business world is not uncommon.  It’s no secret that a good leader helps foster positive employee development, mindset, and attitude.  A good leader is always finding ways to help their employees or team grow; having a growth mindset in leadership is an essential factor.  While some people have a misconception that positive leadership focuses on constant praise and rewards, a growth mindset is more about having a focus on progress and consistent learning.  Forbes contributor, Glenn Llopis, explains, “To lead business transformation, leaders must learn how to transform themselves to define the future growth of their businesses.”

Here are a few major traits for developing a growth mindset:

Get Rid of the Tunnel Vision

Being a leader requires you to have an understanding of the needs and opinions of others.  Even in situations where you think you may have the best solution or reasoning, having that tunnel vision can do more harm than good.  Keep an open mind. Take the time to listen to the needs of the individuals on your team, and understand their unique perspectives. Often times, the perspectives of others around you can assist in addressing issues or developing a specific plan.

Be Prepared for Uncertainty and the Unexpected

Business is full of risk and change; it can often cause uncertainty which may alter your decision-making process.  As a leader with a growth mindset, it’s important that you’re ready to embrace the changes that may come your way. Don’t let things like changes throw you off or alter your choices…

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PR Tactics to Help Grow Business

When you’re looking to grow your business and your brand, Public Relations (PR) is an area on which you should always focus. Having a solid PR strategy is a great way to not only increase brand awareness but essentially build up your business to potentially increase customer base, sales, and revenue.  While good business practices require regular customer engagement and interaction, a PR strategy tends to take this to the next level.

According to Inc. contributor, Adam Fridman, “A simple positive comment or tweet about your product from an internet user can add an extra layer of trust and credibility to your brand, which can also translate to some new business for you. Now imagine the effect such comment–more like news–will have on your brand when it comes from a powerful and respected third party, like a media house. That’s the power of public relations.”

Here are a few great PR tactics to help increase brand awareness and grow your business:

Content Creation & Publishing

PR, from a basic perspective, is gaining exposure to an organization’s audiences using avenues that appeal to their audience’s and public interests.  One sure tactic you want to factor into your PR strategy is high-quality content creation. Creating regular content that will appeal to your audience will help keep them in the loop about what’s going on with your company.  You’ll want to make sure you’re publishing content in relevant areas as well. Your websites and any other social profiles are a great housing platform for any Press Releases, blog posts, or general organizational news. Additionally, you can utilize third-party publications to increase your outreach.

Transparency

One of the most important aspects of running a successful business, whether it’s large or small, is maintaining transparency with your audience and customers.  Loyal consumers want to know what’s going on with your brand (this goes back to your content creation)…

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4 Interior Design Tips to Transform Your Home

Whether it’s your first home, apartment, or you just need to change things up where you’ve been settled for the last few years, the design to your living space can absolutely make your home, feel like, home.  You want your space to be reflective of your personality and what you love; whether that’s bright vibrant colors, neutral undertones, or tons of DIY home projects that show your creativity and craftsmanship.  Either way, the great thing about interior design is it’s truly reflective of YOU; and what’s better than that!  If you’re seeking some insight, here are a few tips to make your space exactly what you want:

Figure Out Your Color Scheme

Your color scheme is the staple of your whole design plan.  This is where you’re going to establish what colors and shades of paint, wallpaper, furniture, etc., you want to use.  You may want to maintain a similar color scheme throughout your entire home, or take it room by room; either is fine. Different rooms will reflect your colors in different ways, and the accentual pieces you choose can really add a personal style to each room.  You also want to consider the size of each room, and what colors will work best. A best practice for smaller rooms is to use lighter, softer colors, to make the space look bigger than it actually is.

The Power of an Accent Wall

Piggy-backing off of your general color scheme, if you are thinking about a possible pop of color, but don’t want to stray too far from your original plan, consider an accent wall.  Accent walls are a great way to not only break up your space but add some color or depth to a room that might need it. Keep in mind, and accent wall doesn’t need to be a wall of solid color.  You can make an accent wall textured with wood panels or wallpaper, or even paint an abstract pattern that still works within your original color scheme…

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